Diarrhea is defined as having loose watery stools three or more times per day. It can be persistent and chronic, which can lead to dehydration and nutrient deficiencies. Diarrhea often happens in a consistent pattern, such as when you are going to an event or to work, which is often due to feeling anxious or nervous. If loose stools are waking you up in the middle of the night, this can be a sign of inflammatory bowel disease, which needs to be evaluated by your gastrointestinal doctor. Diarrhea can also come and go, which may actually be a sign of constipation. If you find that you are constipated for several days and then have bouts of diarrhea, this is considered “overflow diarrhea.” If your pipes are filled up, then your gut will eventually run out of space to hold more food and fluid, resulting in a clean out through diarrhea. If you recognize this as your pattern, I would recommend working on eliminating your constipation, as that is likely the core issue in this situation.
Causes of Diarrhea:
1. Stress and anxiety 2. Certain medications 3. Food intolerances or allergies 4. Inflammatory bowel disease 5. Lack of fiber 6. Gut infections such as stomach flu or food poisoning 7. Constipation
Treatments for Diarrhea The treatment for loose stools depends on the underlying cause. In some cases, simple lifestyle changes such as stress reduction techniques and nervous system regulation to rewire the brain can be incredibly helpful. In other cases, adding certain types of fiber can help bind the stool.
Foods to help bind the stool:
· Bananas · Okra · Kiwi · Figs · Plums · Berries · Sweet potatoes · Mangoes · Oat bran · Apples · Oranges · Sunflower seeds · Cooked carrots · Ground flaxseed · Oats · Broccoli or Brussel sprout - start with 1/2 cup or less, cooked. · Beans such as chickpeas or lentils – start with sprouted and then work up to small amounts of drained and rinsed canned beans.
Action Steps to Improve Diarrhea:
1. Practice stress management daily – deep breathing, meditating, gratitude journaling, yoga, gargling, humming, end your shower with cold water, or try programs to rewire your brain like www.vital-side.com. 2. Stay hydrated with water and electrolytes. 3. Consistently incorporate fiber binding food. 4. Include prebiotics in powder form such as acacia fiber or psyllium husk – start with ½ teaspoon and work up to recommended dose. 5. Try passionflower or marshmallow root tea to calm and soothe the intestines.
Loose stools can cause huge disruptions in one’s daily life, but it is not a hopeless situation. It is important to identify the underlying cause and work with a healthcare provider to develop a treatment plan that works best for you. Be sure to incorporate changes consistently to help prevent future complications.